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A Mysuru court today granted anticipatory bail to Nalini Balakumar and one another student named Maridevaiah S, who were recently arrested for protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA).
Balakumar was charged for sedition under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for holding a placard that read “Free Kashmir”, during an anti-CAA protest held at Mysore University.
While granting anticipatory bail, Additional District & Sessions Judge Jerald Rudolph Mendonca relied on the Supreme Court's judgment Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre vs. State of Maharashtra which laid down the parameters for granting anticipatory bail.
While doing so, the judge stated that that the offence alleged against Balakumar [sedition under IPC] is not exclusively punishable with death or imprisonment for life.
The Court also took into account of the fact that at present, there is no material to show that Balakumar has any criminal antecedents or connections with any banned outfits. Moreover, the petitioner had immediately accepted that she had shown the placard, and had explained her stand in the matter. She was also found to be co-operating with the investigation at all points, the Court noted.
The fact that the petitioner had not caused any loss of life or property was also taken into account. The Court further noted,
“The apprehension that she would abscond is taken care of by imposing the conditions of surrendering of her passport.”
On the point of freedom of speech, the Court held that an opinion expressed by a person must be free and not a forced opinion.
"The freedom of Speech is the right to form an opinion after getting the correct and full information about an issue and express the same."
Mysuru Court granting anticipatory bail to Balakumar
On the charges of sedition levied against Balakumar, the Court refused to form an opinion on the same.
"This Court is of the firm view that at this stage any person including this Court cannot form an opinion or declare whether the Petitioner has committed the offence of Sedition or not."
While granting anticipatory bail to Balakumar, the Court also granted anticipatory bail to Maridevaiah S on the condition that he should not organize any protest without following the rules and further should intimate the jurisdictional Police of the same.
Therefore, in the light of the above the petitioners were ordered to be released on bail on the execution of a personal bond for a sum of Rs.50,000/- each with one surety, subject to certain other conditions. The conditions included:
1. The Petitioners shall surrender before the Jurisdictional Court within a period of one month and furnish the bail and surety as per this Order.
2. The petitioners shall not tamper the Prosecution witnesses directly or indirectly.
3. The Petitioners shall not repeat similar offences in future.
4. The Petitioners shall co-operate with the Investigating Officer in the investigation and shall appear before the Investigating Officer as and when called for.
6. The Petitioners shall be regular in attending the Court on all the hearing dates.
Balakumar was additionally required to surrender her passport. The order states,
"If no charge sheet is filed against her or the case is closed for want of sufficient materials to file the charge sheet, the Petitioner can move this Court for the custody of the passport after the filing of the Final Report."
Last week, a Mysuru court had adjourned the hearing of the anticipatory bail application filed on behalf of Nalini Balakumar.
A few days after the Mysuru Bar Association passed a resolution barring its members from appearing for Balakumar, around 169 lawyers from the state - including Senior Advocates - signed a Vakalatnama offering to appear for her in court.
[Read the anticipatory bail order here]